Piraeus (313 Bensen A)

Astronomical Characteristics

Floating behind a massive hydrogen cloud, the planet (and the rest of the Bensen system) was completely missed for several dozen years. The star, 'Bensen', is a main sequence star in the K2V spectral class with a mass of 0.73. The particular planet of interest is the planet closest to the star, but sitting very close to the median of the Goldilocks Zone with a small moon circling an orbit every 17 days. The days on Piraeus are twenty-seven hours and fifty-eight minutes long which plays hell with calenders so the Task Force, to save sanity, operates within the idea of a nine hour workday while on the planet and rotates crews to the fleet and back fairly often. The planet completes a single rotation of the star (a year) every sixteen months and four days, making the seasons very long and distinctive. The axial tilt of the planet for seasonal change is larger than what most people on the Colonies are used to when it comes to Winter, except maybe Aquarians who seem right at home during the the 4 long months of Winter. Summers are mild by comparison and somewhat closer to those of Caprica, meaning the average temperature is just a bit cooler than what most are used to. It is slightly larger than the average Colony, too, with a circumference of 43,018.11km at the equator. Work is a little harder at the higher gravity, but little else is different.

Surface Characteristics

The planet is considered to be a garden world. It is largely physical soil with only 43% of it covered by water, the majority of which is saltwater. Similar to the Colonies, the precipitation is freshwater, as is the majority of inland lakes and rivers or streams. The plate tectonics, which are still being studied, seem to indicate 6 major continental plates that are drifting over the iron core's mantle — which is comparatively larger than usual for a colony. The resulting electromagnetic fields generated around the planet bring the polar aurora borealis (and up from the southern hemisphere as well) down to the mid latitudes nightly, especially during the winter months when it can be quite bright and colorful. These fields are also responsible for the exceptionally powerful electrical and thunderstorms that spread across the planet during the wetter late "Spring". Most of the landmasses are covered with dense forests, especially around the more mountainous areas.


The Settlement of Sheridan

Some might try and refer to Sheridan as the capital of Piraeus but the fact of the matter is that it is the only settlement on the planet with a fluctuating population of around 1600 at any given time, the majority of them construction workers and Marines. Built across along a roughly north-south grass valley between two large mountain ranges, the site is a rectangle with one length at a fulll mile and the other side at one quarter of a mile — the west side right up against the dense treeline. Around it is a six foot chain link fence with unguarded gates every two hundred feet, the barrier meant to keep wildlife from wandering around inside the camp. Within the camp are all of the semi-permanent structures where the construction crews, plant workers, scientists, and military personnel are quartered while they work. Within the fenceline there is also a bar (one of the very first structures completed), saw mill, headquarters bunker, motor pool, a general recreation area, and small fusion reactor facility that takes up the entire northern third of the camp's enclosure. It is as much home as anyone can make it considering they were expected to be there three years to complete the construction project and set up research stations.

Life is not easy, though. While they have power with the reactor plant, that is a luxury that only just came on-line after a seventeen month construction effort going at all hours of the day and night, five days a week. The MV Corel Lights, a civilian heavy materials transport, was scrapped in completion for this project. Before that, generators were required for any power and in order to get hot water, one had to trek over to the water boilers or start a fire. All the generator power went to construction, the command bunker, and the bar. Most of the heat during the winter came from fireplaces or iron stoves. Luckily the river provides plenty of fresh water, the small water purification facility also reclaiming the wastewater. The majority of the science contractors opted to commute from their vessels until the indoor plumbing was up and running. The Marines and construction crews were not afforded that option.

Beyond the Fence

The crews and Marines have cleared several long sections of dirt and gravel road that go any number of places. About four miles to the south is a large lake that seems to have been the remains of a meteor crater. The road leading there terminates at the planned site of Camp Laramie, the permanent Marine Corps Base. Two roads turn up towards the mountains, one to each soaring line of mountain ranges, the roads winding through valleys and following wildlife trails where possible. The road leading north is much more heavily traveled along its five mile route and terminates at the landing site of the Assault Landing Ship Jolie Point and the planned site of CFAS Rawlins.

Currently the Marine camp and Navy's air station are sectioned off and the land is still being evaluated, only a few basic structures erected at each — which amount to a couple trailers used for construction offices. The Jolie Point is a landed Colonial Fleet vessel that the Marines use to put large numbers of forces onto the ground. The Admiral has opted to leave the ship on the ground as an emergency shelter and tanking area for vehicles.


Wildlife and Vegetation

The wildlife encountered on Piraeus is going to be about what one would expect to encounter on Earth depending on where the terrain and availability of water. Its safe to assume that most of what they encounter would be similar to how animals have evolved on Earth, as well. Many four-legged creatures. Large cat-like predators, big mammals resembling bears, and all the way down to small insects and spiders.

Most of the terrain that will be seen will be local to Sheridan, which will be a lot of mountains and valleys. The town is located at the mid-latitudes, about 600 miles from the coast of the nearest sea. Oxygen-altitude is roughly 6,000 feet, with much of the area nearby similar in the make-up: mountains and valleys.

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